Largest Challenge Often Largest Reward
Third-year Drake Law student Sasha Mayo, a New York native spent her last summer of law school interning at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office in downtown Brooklyn, NY. Her assignment was in the Domestic Violence Bureau working under the supervision of a misdemeanor assistant aistrict attorney and a felony assistant district attorney, which provided insight into two distinct levels of the criminal justice system, as she was able to see the inner workings of the Criminal Court and Supreme Court.
The term “internship” is a bit of an understatement. In addition to ride-alongs and taking photos at crimes scenes, Mayo had the opportunity to fully participate in the day-to-day happenings of the District Attorney’s Office. Her responsibilities included, but were not limited to: trial preparation, ordering police paperwork, writing motions, conducting research, victim intake, conferences with defense counsel, and most notable, appearing on the record in Criminal Court and handling the misdemeanor docket which provided the opportunity to dismiss cases, provide offers and recommendations, and serve discovery on defense counsel.
“I had an amazing experience,” says Mayo. “It was challenging and sometimes mentally and physically draining, but I found satisfaction in knowing that I helped someone feel safe and feel like they were finally being heard.”
In addition to the field experiences, Mayo’s internship also involved a weekly lecture featuring law enforcement professionals, attorneys from various bureaus, as well as the opportunity to hear from Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes. She was fortunate to not only get a feel for the profession with hands on experience, but to also hear from those that have actually lived it.
Mayo had the opportunity to play a vital role in the process. Her experience doing victim intakes reinforced the importance and value of forming a good attorney-client relationship. And, unlike other types of legal work, Mayo was working victims of traumatic experiences, which requires a different skill-set and level of sensitivity.
Her experience at Drake paved the way.
“When it came time to do writing and research, I did not find it difficult,” says Mayo. “The lessons I learned in my trial advocacy class and all of my criminal law classes provided a great base for me.”
Overall, the experience confirmed Mayo’s interest in going into public service and opened her mind to the possibility of being a prosecutor. She’ll complete her law school studies this year, including experiences as a student attorney in the Drake Law Criminal Defense Clinic and participation in the Nelson Mandela International Negotiations Competition put on by the National Black Law Students Association, and plans to take the New York/New Jersey bar in July.
In the words of Mayo, “some of my most challenging experiences have been the most rewarding.”